. United Kingdom.
Unquestionably, one of the biggest programs now under way in Great Britain is construction of two 60,000-ton Queen Elizabeth
-class aircraft carriers. Originally, the program was to have received final approval in 2003, but this has now slipped to 2006. Even though the project enjoys widespread support throughout the highest levels of the Defence Ministry, the ships' 2012 and 2015 in-service dates are likely to slip, while costs will likely rise as construction commences. To save money, the oldest of three Invincible
-class carriers, HMS Invincible
, was decommissioned in August 2005, following a final deployment last January. Sister ship Illustrious
recently took over as fleet flagship after completing an extensive refit designed to extend her service life at least a decade. Youngest of the class, Ark Royal
, will undergo a similar refit beginning in 2006.
Construction continues on the Astute
-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. The keel of Artful
, third of the class, was laid down in March 2005. Completion of the first unit has been delayed almost two years, and HMS Astute
is not expected in service until late 2008 or early 2009. If delays are extended much longer, older submarines may be forced to remain in service beyond the current decommissioning schedule. The third Swiftsure
-class boat, Spartan
, was decommissioned early in 2006, and the newest of the class, Superb
, is scheduled to remain active until late in 2008, at which time many of the Trafalgar
-class boats will also be preparing to retire. Obviously, this creates a dilemma if the new Astutes
Britain's four Vanguard
-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines have begun their mid-life refueling and overhaul, as efforts continue to keep them sailing smoothly into the future. HMS Victorious
is currently undergoing a three-year refit and refueling, the second of the class to receive such maintenance. Though these vessels are still early in their service lives, the United Kingdom must put some serious consideration into the next generation of nuclear deterrent. It is not uncommon for SSBN development to take a generation, especially now that the requirements no longer demand the same Cold War priorities once afforded to nuclear forces.
The Type 45 destroyer program has also come under great scrutiny. Though 12 ships were originally planned, budget cuts have forced the number down to eight, and it is possible that only six will end up in service. 2006 brings with it the launch of the first Type 45, HMS Daring
, now expected in service by 2009. Second of the class, Dauntless
, and the third unit, Diamond
, are to follow in 2010 and 2011 respectively. To make room for the new destroyers, older ones are preparing for retirement. Three Type 42 destroyers are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2009, one in 2010, two in 2011, two in 2012, and one in 2013. Of course, these dates are subject to change, depending on requirements and funding.
All four of the Largs Bay
-class dock landing ships are near completion. The final vessel, Cardigan Bay
, was launched in April 2005, while the third of the class, Mounts Bay
, began sea trials off Scotland in November 2005. These ships will provide the United Kingdom with a strong and capable amphibious assault force that will sail alongside HMS Ocean
and the two Albion
-class assault landing ships, the newest of which, Bulwark
, was in service by 2005. The long-planned joint casualty treatment ship appears to have become a casualty itself, though there is still debate as to whether a dedicated hospital ship is required or if the role can instead be fulfilled by a multi-purpose amphibious ship outfitted for the casualty treatment mission. Other Royal Navy programs under way include delivery of a new Falkland Islands patrol ship in late 2006 and upgrades to the surviving Hunt-
-class mine countermeasures vessels that are expected to remain in service during the next decade.
Middle East and Africa
On the African continent, Egypt is looking to enhance its submarine force and is eying with interest four Type 206A-class submarines recently retired from the German Navy. An Egyptian submarine program has been ongoing with the United States, but appears to have so far come to naught.
In Iran, negotiations continue with Russia to upgrade and modernize the three Kilo
-class submarines first delivered in the 1990s. Each is in dire need of refit. If Russian media reports are to be believed, modernizations will include arming the Iranian submarines with the 100-plus-mile range 3M-54 antiship missile, sometimes more commonly referred to as the "Club." The modernization deal appears almost certain to happen, and two shipyards are said to be in fierce competition over the $80-90 million modernization contract.
In Iraq, the two Asaad
-class corvettes that had for many years been under embargo in Italy are in the process of being repatriated to the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force. Though actual dates have not been announced, training of Iraqi crews has already begun. Once in service, the Assad
class will join five 27-meter patrol craft delivered from China in 2004 and six newer units reportedly under construction in Iraq. http://www.usni.org/proceedings/Arti...rldNavies8.jpg IAI
Israel took delivery of two Super Dvora III-class fast-attack craft in 2005. A total of six are expected in service by 2006.. Israel.
Though budget realities have forced Israel to abandon, at least for the time being, plans for a large amphibious assault ship, one of the most interesting stories in recent months has been its decision to purchase two additional Dolphin
-class submarines from Germany. Rather than invest in a new class, the decision to purchase the cost-effective submarines, three of which are already in service, was announced late in 2005. Delivery of the two submarines is expected in 2009 and 2010, and the program is estimated to cost roughly $850 million. Despite the fact that most of Israel's military funding goes to its army and air force, the maritime force still manages to make due and was proud to take delivery of two Super Dvora III
-class patrol craft and four small Defender-class boats during the past year.
Small boats and guided-missile patrol craft are also high on the shopping list of the Kuwaiti Navy, which plans to acquire 12 new Mark V Interceptor
-class craft during the next few years. http://www.usni.org/proceedings/Arti...rldNavies9.jpg CHRIS SATTLER
Nigerian frigate Aradu
surprised many when it sailed to Great Britain in 2005, taking part in celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.. Nigeria.
The Nigerian Navy took delivery of its first Defender-class small patrol boats in 2005 while also proving that Aradu
, Nigeria's lone MEKO 360-class frigate, was, at least for short periods of time, still seaworthy. Long considered non-operational, the frigate surprised many when it sailed to Great Britain, taking part in celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
In the Middle Eastern nation of Oman, the Royal Oman Police ordered three 88.5-foot fast patrol boats paid for by U.S. foreign military sales funds. The boats, built by U.S. Marine in New Orleans, Louisiana, are expected in service by 2007. Several shipbuilders are also expressing interest in a new Omani offshore patrol vessel program, announced in 2005.
. South Africa.
South Africa's new naval vision sees its military forces contributing significantly more capabilities to combat piracy and smuggling operations. In line with this requirement, a number of new programs are being considered, including the purchase of several additional MEKO frigates. The navy is apparently pleased with its MEKO A-200SAN (Valour
-class) ships, the last of which, Mendi
, was delivered in 2005. With delivery of the last of three Type 209/1400 submarines during 2005, the navy now has a viable submarine force to help meet its underwater needs for at least a generation.
During 2005, Tunisia strengthened the ranks of its navy via the purchase of six Type 143 fast-attack craft. Though the craft were exported from Germany without their Exocet antiship missiles, they can still pack a punch. Capable of traveling at speeds in excess of 35 knots, the craft will likely carry a 76-mm cannon and torpedo tubes in addition to small arms.
. The UAE.
The United Arab Emirates' new Baynunah
-class corvettes are yet another major naval combatant program originating in the Middle East. The first of at least four ships was laid down in France on 8 September 2005 and is due for delivery to the UAE by 2008. The remaining corvettes of the class will be built at Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding and delivered at six-month intervals. The warships will be armed with French antiship missiles and an advanced radar system. Current UAE naval plans also include the purchase of three 64-meter landing craft and upgrades to its German-built TNC-45-class guided-missile craft and possibly the acquisition of four 26-meter supply vessels. The UAE has even expressed interest in developing a submarine fleet, though as yet, the interest has been purely preliminary, and no plans have been formally announced. http://www.usni.org/proceedings/Arti...ldNavies10.jpg AUSTAL
In February 2005, Yemen took delivery of ten 37-meter patrol boats. Built by Austal in Australia, the craft were delivered simultaneously via heavy-lift ship.. Yemen
Also in 2005, Yemen took delivery of ten 37-meter patrol boats built by the Australian shipbuilder Austal. The vessels will be used for coastal patrols around the Gulf of Aden and surrounding waterways.
In a boost to Argentine amphibious warfare capabilities, two 8,500-ton Ouragan
-class dock landing ships have been purchased from France for delivery in 2006 and 2007. One of the ships will reportedly be used operationally while the second unit may be used as a source for cannibalization spares. Until these vessels are operational, the only amphibious capability available to the Argentine fleet can be found in its former British Sheffield
-class destroyer that was converted to carry marines and special operations troops and a 7,600-ton Costa Sur
-class amphibious transport.
A major corvette program is also now in the works for Argentina. The PAM project (Patrullero de Alta Mar
-high seas patrol craft) calls for up to five corvettes to be built. The PAM corvettes will likely enter service between 2008 and 2013.
For more than two decades, the Brazilian Navy has maintained the hope that a locally-built class of nuclear-powered attack submarines will some day be purchased. Until that time, however, work continued on the nation's conventionally-powered Type 209/1400 submarines built in Germany and Brazil. The fifth and final Type 209, Tikuná
, completed sea trials in November 2005 and was commissioned in December. Tikuná
's commissioning concludes a very long five-ship Brazilian naval construction program that began when the first Type 209 was laid down in 1985 and the last unit was completed 20 years later. With that program out of the way, Brazil has begun expressing interest in purchasing an unknown quantity of Type 214 submarines from Germany. Doing so, however, could result in serious budget shortfalls elsewhere in the Navy and will likely cause further delays to other important programs, including the incomplete frigate Barroso
that has remained under construction since 1994.
In Canada, there has been little relief for the beleaguered submarine program that has been getting a steady stream of negative media coverage since a serious fire killed one and injured several others on board HMCS Chicoutimi
in 2004. As the government began a major submarine safety program, the navy was eager to put its best foot forward and get on with ensuring that all four of the submarines purchased from the United Kingdom were both safe and operationally effective. For a number of months, the entire class was taken off sea duty, but by the spring of 2005, HMCS Victoria
was again operational and taking part in exercises. Unfortunately, she too suffered an on board fire late in 2005, and though the blaze was quickly extinguished, a figurative cloud of black smoke seems to remain hanging over the boats. http://www.usni.org/proceedings/Arti...ldNavies12.jpg LEO VAN GINDEREN
was the first Canadian Halifax
-class frigate to complete modernization. Improvements include the addition of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM).Some hopeful signs can be found, however, in the form of three important surface ship programs now under way in Canada. Work on the Joint Support Ship design continues as the navy looks to purchase three multi-role vessels to replace the Protecteur
-class replenishment ships now in service. Additionally, work continues on modernizations and improvement to the Halifax
-class destroyers, with HMCS Montreal
the first to complete modernization. As both the Iroquois
- and Halifax
-class destroyers show signs of aging, there has been an increased effort to find replacements for them, though it now looks as though a single class will eventually take their place rather than two separate designs. http://www.usni.org/proceedings/Arti...ldNavies11.jpg BERNARD PRÉZELIN
The first of two new Scorpène
-class submarines, O'Higgins
was delivered to Chile in September 2005.. Chile.
With modernization high on the Chilean Navy's priority list, it seems as if its planning is finally beginning to pay off. The first of two Scorpène
-class submarines, O'Higgins
,was delivered in September 2005 with sister Carrera
due to arrive in mid-2006. The boats, built in France and Spain, will join two Type 209/1400-class submarines while replacing the two Oberon
-class boats O'Brien
that were retired a number of years ago.
Rather than go forward with a new class of MEKO A-200 frigates, Chile looked to the Netherlands and recently purchased two each of the modern, albeit second-hand, warships of the Jacob Van Heemskerck
and Karel Doorman
classes. The frigates are due to enter service between 2006 and 2007 following refit and modernization in the Netherlands. Chile also brought a shopping list to the United Kingdom, and the resulting deal to purchase three Duke
(Type 23)-class general-purpose frigates, built during the 1990s, was announced in September 2005. The $350 million purchase price for the ships is said to include Harpoon and Sea Wolf missiles and training of Chilean crews to serve on board the three British warships. Scheduled for transfer between 2006 and 2008, the Duke
class will replace Chile's Leander
class now in service.
For Ecuador, construction is under way on three 300-ton patrol craft for the coast guard, built by Babcock Marine. The vessels are expected in service by 2007.
In neighboring Peru, the first of four recently transferred Lupo
-class frigates arrived from Italy in June 2005. A second pair was delivered in January 2006. These four ships join four older Lupo
frigates already in Peruvian service.
. Trinidad and Tobago.
On the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, plans are under way to construct three 80-meter offshore patrol vessels for maritime security in local waters. The first of these new patrol boats is expected in service around 2007. Though designs have yet to be finalized, several European shipbuilders have expressed interest including Blohm + Voss of Germany and Vosper-Thornycraft of the United Kingdom.
In April 2005, the German replenishment oiler Freburg
was retired and transferred to Uruguay where she has been renamed General Artigas
. At 3,900 tons full load displacement she is by far the largest vessel serving in Uruguay's navy.
With the current political climate in Venezuela rife with anti-American sentiment, it comes as no surprise that Washington is paying careful attention to recent military purchases made by the South American nation. Flush with cash as oil prices remained high during the past year, Venezuela has ordered four patrol boats and four 102-meter corvettes from Spain. As of January 2006, however, the United States has been working to block the orders on the grounds that their sale would violate technology transfer laws. Recent reports indicate that the Venezuelan Navy may also be looking to Russia with the expressed interest of purchasing three Amur
-class submarines as early as 2007. Mr. Wertheim, a defense consultant in the Washington, D.C. area, is the author of the Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, published by the Naval Institute Press. This article updates the 2005-06 edition of the book.